Friday, September 14, 2007



For more than a decade now, women have been steering clear of baggy unisex T shirts, going in for more figure-flattering looks and asking garment makers to custom-cut styles especially for the female form. As a design/ printer in the shirt merchandising industry, I've noticed wholesalers' new season catalog covers showing more and more 'girl power'. Baby doll tops, cap sleeve tees, spaghetti strap tanks and boy beaters are among the slew of new ladies' junior style offerings challenging the basic boxy tee shirt.

Just as my mom and pop survived the advent of the mini skirt without too much damage to their relationships with their daughters, in the same way, I too am now wading through the new fashion currents (especially as they affect my own daughter!) In our home, as in our cottage industry, our family values and notions of modesty in dress keep open for us a dialog with the fashion culture. Style and taste are generous enough tents pitched in this dialog so while others will doubtless differ, what follows is one of my own concerns.

This might surprise you, but even as a designer who wants to maximize profits making top-notch ladies-wear, there are certain styles I can't promote and won't place in my ladies wear line. It has always seemed to me there is a fine but necessary line to draw between "sexy" and "racy". A little of the former is good for self-esteem, and healthy body image; the latter seems to me only to be reveling in over-exposure. Some styles just show too much skin--though very often sizing up larger can compensate for those who, like me, prefer a look that yields a tad more coverage without losing the appeal of the more contoured fit that's already tailored into the style of the shirt.

Accordingly, I want the spaghetti strap styles that I print on to come up high and I think the print just plain looks better at that level as well. The raglan cap sleeve tee ("baseball" style, yet thoroughly girly) is another one of my favorites. This style has a major body-area color with different, contrasting sleeve/crew neck colors. The sleeve holes are cut at a diagonal to the neck as opposed to straight up to the shoulder (sometimes called a "box-cut" sleeve). It's just very cute and flattering to the female form. Other ladies wear styles I consider to be classy are baby doll tops and needle-out tees (inside-out, with contrasting stitches on the seams). New styles seem to keep emerging which makes this market a really fun place for a designer of ladies wear to be.

When it comes to the graphics, elegant and classic is the goal. Prints should enhance the sense of presence already in the style of the garment and be decorative and designedly. I think the use of gold glitter and metallic shades on dark fabrics is simply the bombast and many designs of late incorporating metallic inks are for the most part, rather appealing and quite innovative. Uncluttered, clean- looking prints ooze with that elusive stylishness. A driving standard of graphic design is for the total visual presentation to be harmoniously honed to a single point, both visually and textually. You know this instinctively when you see it--it just grabs you.

I believe that slogans and text should be minimal and when used, confluent with the overall artistry. Cleverly humorous, zany statements are always a sure winner, as are upbeat, positive messages. However, to my way of thinking, in-your-face political messages, vulgar slogans, and shock-value sayings lacking all subtlety don't make the grade in quality fashion design. Sure, they're often funny, but isn't it past time for the text in tee shirt fashions to rise above the level of a readable fart?

Just as styles for ladies are becoming specialized and classier, so surely will their accompanying graphics--unquestionably, it's already happening. Recently I saw a girl in an off-white beater, no print at all on the front. High on the back, however, was a small but intricately crafted pair of filigree angel wings, in a beige print, very decorative, very feminine and somewhat tattoo- like. The text displaying the logo brand name was likewise small and unobtrusive. Bravo!--and more of the same, please!

About the Author:

B. Capcara is the owner/designer of a ladies wear website featuring direct soft-hand screen prints that range from classic to zany. Drop in for a peek of the artist's own unique collection at the Grailforge Unicorn.

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The Company.

BreatheTex Corporation (Pty) Ltd was established as a result of the successful commercialization of a lamination technology developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Our company, a joint venture between several local entrepreneurs and a majority Black Empowerment Consortium, includes the CSIR as their technology partner, and Brait Technology & Innovation Fund, Vantage Capital, Industrial Development Corporation (through the European Investment Bank) and the National Empowerment Fund as our funding partners.

BreatheTex is based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and has grown from a staff complement of 9 at inception to that of 35 people today.


BreatheTex is the only company in Africa and one of only a few worldwide who can deliver high performance, waterproof, breathable fabrics that meet the most stringent international specifications.

Our highly specialized team of scientists, technologists and engineers are constantly working towards developing new and novel solutions for our customers, either in terms of technologies, raw materials or final products.

BreatheTex has modified the latest screen print technology into a highly advanced process for laminating lightweight, breathable membranes to textiles in order to produce state-of-the-art products. These improvements to the technology allow us to laminate a variety of polyester, polyurethane (both hydrophilic and microporous) blockamide and PTFE membranes to any type of fabric, foam or other substrate using various types of adhesives including reactive hot melts. The laminated fabrics are completely waterproof and windproof, resistant to wear and abrasion, and highly breathable. They allow perspiration in the form of moisture vapour to escape into the atmosphere, thus helping the wearer to remain cool, dry and comfortable.

The waterproof, breathable fabrics developed by BreatheTex are used for specific applications in the Military, Protective Work wear, Fire Fighting, Medical and Sports & Leisurewear markets, such as foul weather jackets, raincoats, surgical gowns, operating theater covers & drapes and mattress covers, to name a few.

This South African based company provides the worlds leading garment manufacturers with:

World class product development capabilities.

Unsurpassed flexibility.

Short runs.

Quick turnaround times.

Competitive prices.

Product Performance.


Waterproof breathable fabrics provide complete protection against rain and wind, but allow perspiration in the form of moisture vapour to be transmitted into the atmosphere, thereby helping the wearer to remain cool, dry and comfortable.

Non-breathable waterproof fabrics, on the other hand, are impermeable. Moisture can not pass through these materials and consequently perspiration from the body builds up within the garment, especially under conditions of prolonged physical activity. This leads to an increase in body temperature, which causes discomfort and can eventually result in heat stress. When the physical activities are ceased, there is a risk of chills (the post - exercise chill effect), which can lead to hypothermia.

Coated fabrics are inferior to laminated fabrics in terms of waterproofness, breathability and durability.

BreatheTex uses the latest screen print technology to laminate lightweight breathable films to textile fabrics to produce high performance breathable waterproof materials. These breathable fabrics are completely waterproof and windproof, resistant to wear and abrasion and show a high breathability. BreatheTex has the capabilities to laminate a variety of hydrophilic and microporous membranes, including PTFE, polyester and polyurethane, to any type of fabric, foam or other substrate using a range of adhesives, including reactive hotmelts.

The breathable water-resistant fabrics are available in a wide range of weights, ranging from less than 50g/m² to well over 300g/m². The fabrics can be supplied in a wide range of colours as well as in camouflage print designs. If required, BreatheTex will laminate fabrics supplied by the customer to the breathable films. The laminated fabrics meet the highest quality standards and are durable and cost effective.


The company focuses on supplying high performance laminates to the following industries:

Protective Work wear.
Fire Fighting.
Sports & Leisurewear.
Resistant to wear and abrasion.
Highly breathable.
Easy care.
Oil and water repellent.
Fuel and oil resistant.
Fire retardant.
Deet resistant.
Viral and blood borne pathogen resistant.
Synthetic fibres - Polyester and Nylon.
Natural fibres – Cotton, wool and their blends with synthetics.
Synthetic fibres - Polyester and Nylon.
Single layer membranes.
Bi-component membranes.
ISO 9002.
ISO 14001.
BreatheTex not only offers off-the-shelf products to our customers, but also focuses on developing customized solutions based on customer requirements.
Meeting the most stringent specifications of various military organizations around the world, BreatheTex has developed a range of camouflage printed and plain dyed fabrics in a variety of constructions.
For the past 7 years, BreatheTex has supplied the South African defense Force with high tech laminated waterproof breathable fabric for use in their foul weather garments.
In partnership with UK companies, BreatheTex is supplying the United Kingdom Ministry of defense with laminated waterproof breathable fabrics for foul weather applications.
We also supply military contracts in Western Europe and the Middle East, and have a variety of military fabrics in testing at the moment with organizations around the world.
BreatheTex has the ability to offer a range of laminated fabrics to various militaries, based on the following membranes:
BreatheTex not only supplies customers with lamination technology but can also assist in the sourcing of fabrics and in the development of camouflage print colours meeting the specific visual and infrared requirements of the military through our commission printers.
Our competitive advantage lies in our:
Ability to meet military specifications.
Ability to re-engineer our products and processes to produce new and innovative products.
Quick turnaround times.
Unsurpassed flexibility in terms of short runs.
Competitive prices.
Solution based approach.

Protective Work wear.
With the assistance of a skilled technical team, BreatheTex has developed and supplied a wide range of technical fabrics for the Protective Work wear market worldwide. These fabrics are completely waterproof, windproof and breathable, with additional properties such as being resistant to wear and abrasion, oil and water repellent, fire retardant, etc.
The industries within which we operate include:
Fire Fighting.
BreatheTex has successfully supplied customers in Europe, the Middle East, South Africa and the USA.
Our competitive advantage lies in our:
Ability to meet specifications using PTFE, PU, PES and blockamide membranes.
Ability to re-engineer our products and processes to produce new and innovative products.
Flexibility in terms of Product Development.
Willingness to do short runs for customers.
Quick turnaround times.
Competitive prices.
Solution based approach.

Through our Joint Venture partner, Priontex (Pty) Ltd, BreatheTex offers the medical market state-of-the-art products. Priontex operates within the medical textile and garment industry, where it focuses on manufacturing and developing theatre textiles (i.e. re-usable gowns, barrier gowns and drapes) and allergy barrier linen / incontinence products. Utilising the BreatheTex lamination technologies with our new advanced membrane developments and special finishes, we produce superb products suitable for the local and international markets.
Priontex takes pride in its products, which are custom-made, cost-effective solutions that are environmentally friendly.
Our competitive advantage lies in the following:
World class knowledge and production of laminated products.
Local production.
Quality driven Research and Development.
Flexible choice of polymer membranes.
Good knowledge and technology of lamination.
Competitive pricing.
Leader in quality and price in the field of laminated barrier textiles for theatre applications (gowns and drapes) nationally and internationally.
ISO accredited.
Our product range includes:
Re-usable Barrier Gowns.
Re-usable Barrier Drapes.
Re-usable Semi-Barrier Gowns.
Re-usable Semi-Barrier Drapes.
Scrub Suits and Theatre Jackets.
Allergy Linen.
Nets and Grafts.
Incise Foils.

SPORTS WEAR - TAKE CARE Sports & Leisurewear
BreatheTex's state of the art lamination services are available to the world's leading brands, either in the form of rolled goods of laminated fabrics or commission lamination of customer supplied fabrics.
With our range of membranes, BreatheTex is able to develop a product to meet our customer requirements in terms of:
Performance Levels.
Drape and feel.
Our competitive advantage lies in our:
Ability to supply laminates made up of PTFE, PU and PES membranes.
Ability to re-engineer our products and processes to produce new and innovative products.
Flexibility in terms of Product Development.
Willingness to do short runs for customers.
Quick turnaround times.
Competitive prices.
Solution based approach.
Since inception, BreatheTex has received recognition in the form of the following awards:
Winner in the Technology Top 100, SME Category, November 2001
Winner in the President’s Award for Export Achievement, SME Category, November 2001.
Winner of the Sunday Times Most Promising Small Start-up Business, November 2001.
Runner up in the National Science and Technology Forum Award, April 2002.
Winner of the Eastern Cape Entrepreneurial Exporter of the Year, October 2002.
Winner of the SA Excellence / SAFRI Award for Excellence, November 2002.
(Sponsored by the Chairman of Daimler Chrysler, Germany)>
Finalist in the Technology Top 100, Large Corporate Category, November 2002.
Runner Up in the DTI Business Awards, December 2002.
Runner up in the National Science and Technology Forum Award, April 2003.
Winner of the Eastern Cape Exporter of the Year Award, Large Corporate Category, September 2003.
Winner of the Eastern Cape Award in the Top 300 Companies Awards, October 2003.
Finalist in the Technology Top 100, Large Corporate Category, November 2003.
Winner of the National Science and Technology Forum Award, SMME Category, May 2004.
Winner of the Eastern Cape Exporter of the Year Award, September 2004.
Winner of the Africa SMME Award, October 2004.
Finalist in the Technology Top 100, Large Corporate Category, November 2004.
Winner of the Eastern Cape Exporter of the Year Award for the 3rd consecutive year, October 2005.
Winner of the Leader in Empowerment Award at the Technology Top 100 Awards, November 2005.
BreatheTex will be at the following exhibitions in 2005:
Techtextil, Frankfurt, Germany - June 2005 – Hall 3.1, Stand F22
A+A, Düsseldorf, Germany - October 2005.
Milipol, Paris, France - November 2005.
We will continue to be present at the key trade shows worldwide.

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